Whenever I am fortunate enough to appear for a fashion sustainability panel, I prefer to give the audience so much more than an environmental awareness lecture. In short, humanity requires interconnectivity to open the dialogue of conversation including all inhabitants on planet earth. The simple yet harsh reality is that without our beloved planet earth, life would not exist. In this day and age, no matter who you are, you have no doubt encountered environmental obstacles and sustainability challenges in your life. Some of you deal with it and move on, whereas others make a lifelong commitment to advocate and participate for generations to come. The relative influence of nature coupled with the manifestation of human inhabitants has for centuries produced speculation by environmentalists and scholars of all kinds. At present, highly developed statistical techniques have allowed us to dissect sustainability challenges into distinct sources of variance, the intertwined influences of civilization and environment.
Consequently, speculation about nature versus manufacturing is being transformed into theorizing based on facts, and the facts are firmly in place. To be sure, the influence on our biological heritage on physical and psychological data is undeniable, and this includes human abilities, personality, vocational interests and most importantly; the future of our planet. Every year, citizens of the United States and people across the world invest, through their taxes, millions of dollars into basic and applied research. We can only hope that the research will lead to improvements in the overall quality of life in their society. And indeed, much progress has been made as a result of this investment. I suspect that without even charting data, you’ll be able to free a new sense of energy and vitality. This leads to two questions: what do we actually know, and what would happen if our knowledge were applied.
One way is to tune in to and appreciate a direct sensory experience. Truly, connecting with a sustainable fashion company. Each day when you rise, you can appreciate your direct sensory experiences knowing that you are open to habitually practicing positive sustainable routines. Being open means cultivating both curiosity about and acceptance about what you’re are currently experiencing. So far, I’ve sketched only a description of how sustainability opens our minds and transforms our lives into something better. In the rest of the feature I’ll present the scientific evidence that has convinced me that there’s a reason to take the data about sustainability more seriously than ever before. If you wish to start purchasing only sustainable fashion, I can strongly suggest to look deep into what makes the product sustainable.
For the sake of this feature, I will assume that you are already on board and that you wish to broaden your mind and build a better future for yourself and for the planet. At this point, I am sure that you have already guessed that I am going to suggest that you increase your efforts to purchase and wear sustainable fashion.
Here we attempt to grapple with this problem. In an interesting tour de force, Wrangler®, the iconic American brand is leading a revolution in denim manufacturing by being the first fashion brand to adopt dry Indigo® denim. Wrangler® confirmed an agreement for denim fabric to be produced later this year with a new foam-dyeing process that will eliminate 99 percent of the water typically used in the indigo-dyeing. Wrangler is the first brand to embrace the innovative technology, which is expected to transform the denim industry.
Almost everyone would agree that Wrangler has been an icon in authentic American style around the world for more than 70 years. The brand was formerly known as Hudson Overall Company from 1904 until 1919 and soon changed its name to Blue Bell Overall Company. In 1943, Blue Bell acquired Casey Jones Company, a manufacturer of work-clothing, and, with it, the rights to Casey Jones' rarely used brand name – Wrangler. Subsequently, In 1947, Wrangler Authentic Western Jeans was introduced to the American costumer. One theme running through this volume is the of tough resistance to the profound implications of fit and wear for the cowboys. Professional rodeo cowboys Jim Shoulders, Bill Linderman and Freckles Brown wear-tested the denim and endorsed the Wrangler name for durability, quality and authenticity. In 1962, Wranger opens a plant in Belgium and is successfully launched in Europe. But it wasn’t until 1996 when the once Blue Bell Overall Company reaches the 1stspot as a market share leader in the United States. The statistic says that one out of every four males in the U.S. is rocking the Wrangler jeans. Nowadays, Wrangler is known as one of the most innovative denim brands out there. Trying to reach new horizons, without looking at the past and always looking forward for the quality and transparence of the brand’s sustainable-minded ethic.
Although I occasionally find flaws in the research of my studies reported in publications or lectures, I almost always accept as accurate the information provided on demographics and results, especially when they are quantified. It would be unseemly for me to cite expert studies pertaining to sustainability without referring to long-range predictive validity of the advanced foam technology tests, which are constructed around the assessment of divergent thinking. based on my follow-up data, the measures were even better in forecasting ratings of quality of highest creative and sustainable achievement.
With a rich legacy founded in the American west, Wrangler commits to offering unmatched quality and timeless design. Its collections for men, women and children are a powerful and persuasive display to look and feel great, inspiring those who wear them to be strong and ready for life, every day.
“While we have been able to reduce 3 billion liters of water in product finishing during the past 10 years, we know that more needs to be done across the entire supply chain,” said Wrangler President, Tom Waldron. “Foam technology reduces water consumption and pollution further upstream, helping our fabric suppliers to dramatically minimize the impacts of making denim fabric blue.” Recognizing the potential of this breakthrough, Wrangler and the Walmart Foundation provided Texas Tech University with early-stage funding for development of the foam- dying process. The iconic denim brand helped introduce fabric mills to the latest technology and now will incorporate the first foam-dyed denim into a line of jeans launching in 2019.
“We invested in the development of this innovation, because we believe it can drastically change the denim industry for the better,” Waldron said. “We’re grateful to have an industry-leading partner in Royo, with whom we are taking this revolutionary step towards more sustainable denim.”
Tejidos Royo, a Spanish fabric mill with a reputation for prioritizing environmental performance, will be the first to integrate the foam-dye process, which it calls Dry Indigo®. Royo is scheduled to receive the foam-dye equipment in October and expects to begin supplying Wrangler with denim before the end of the year.
“We’re excited Wrangler is dedicating an entire line of jeans to this innovation,” said Tejidos Royo Sales Director, Jose Royo. “Our Dry Indigo process nearly erases the environmental impact of denim dyeing and represents the next generation of denim production.”
The first line of foam-dyed jeans will be Wrangler’s most recent action to minimize environmental impact and save precious resources. Among the brand’s demonstrated sustainability activities are the ongoing work in U.S. sustainable cotton and a commitment to reduce water usage by five billion liters by 2020. According to Royo, applying indigo dye to raw denim with foam instead of water will eliminate the need for the tens of millions of gallons of water typically consumed by conventional wet-dye systems.
Tejidos Royo is a Spanish Company founded in 1903, Valencia, Spain. Leader in the textile industry in Europe and with international vocation (present in more than 30 countries). As part of its brand DNA, Tejidos Royo is guiding the textile industry to the new era of sustainability and protection of human rights throughout the whole value chain. Takes the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as its own (Tejidos Royo your eco-innovation partner "Fabrics with Values") TEJIDOS ROYO is committed and continuously reinvesting in talent, business innovation, technology, processes and machinery. Being innovative allows Tejidos Royo to improve and make the world a better place for all, be more competitive and offer the market products with differential value in textile world.
The criteria of methods and rationale implemented to produce Wrangler denim with this new technology, results in a degree of superiority that will hopefully set a new standard in apparel manufacturing for the rest to follow. The denim is made when indigo-dyed yarn is weaved between naturally white yarn, creating its signature blue color. Conventional dyeing processes use a lot of energy and water and includes blue wastewater as an output.
A response to climate change and a global focus on water and energy conservation, Indigood is Wrangler’s promise to discover and implement into our supply chain, the most sustainable ways for dyeing denim. We weave together long-standing practices with new, cutting-edge innovations to make sure our products are made with less water and energy.
The latest IndigoodTM innovation is foam-dyed denim. Recognizing its potential to revolutionize the industry, Wrangler provided Texas Tech University with early-stage funding and technical guidance for the innovation. Additionally, Wrangler used our place as a global leader in jeanswear to commercialize the technology and this summer, we’ll be the first brand to sell foam-dyed denim. Foam dyeing fundamentally changes the way indigo is applied to yarn during denim manufacturing. The process uses foam to transfer dye onto yarns, entirely replacing the traditional water vats and chemical baths of conventional indigo dyeing. The foam dye process is the most sustainable way to dye denim.
*What is even more important to highlight is that small amounts of water are used to clean machinery and mix solutions.
During summer 2019, Wrangler will launch the first-ever foam-dyed denim as a part of their ICONS F/W ’19 collection. This small collection is only the beginning as the brand will be working with denim mills in Asia and North America to bring this technology to a larger scale. In my expert estimation, foam-dyed denim won’t just impact Wrangler’s supply chain, but rather surely change our entire industry.
Water use and wastewater are some of the biggest sustainability challenges in denim manufacturing. From cotton production through finishing, one pair of jeans can use hundreds of gallons of water. Despite incremental changes toward comfort and sustainability, over the past 150 years, the denim industry has had just a handful of groundbreaking innovations. Among these was the invention of synthetic dyes, which allowed for indigo-dyed fabrics like denim to become mainstream fashion and workwear. But since the introduction of synthetic indigo in 1897, no innovation has truly revolutionized the industry, until now.
Wrangler continues to explore new ways to care for the land. The brand is setting goals to be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2025, conserve 5.5 billion liters of water at our owned and operated facilities by 2020, remove 100% of unwanted chemistry from our supply chain by 2020 and source 100% sustainable cotton by 2025. In addition, Wrangler is committed to doing right by the land, considering its impact from every angle, and supporting farmers who do the same. In 2017, the brand launched the Wrangler Science and Conservation program to encourage U.S. cotton growers to use best practices for soil health and land stewardship. What I find especially intriguing is that the Wrangler® Rooted CollectionTM celebrates our commitment to sustainably-grown cotton and currently features five state-specific pairs of jeans made of sustainable cotton directly traceable to a family farm in that state. Partnerships with the Soil Health Institute, NC Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation,Texas Alliance for Water Conservation, CottonConnect, and the FFA which assist and encourage farmers and aspiring farmers to adopt best practices for soil health.
Between 2007 and 2017, Wrangler saved three billion liters of water at our owned and operated facilities. As you may be well aware, many solutions have been proposed by professional educators and scientists. Nevertheless, in my opinion, on most curriculum-reform points, this brand is a challenge for sustainability education. All suppliers are required to meet the brands strict global compliance principles and the code of business conduct to operate together.
I recently had the privilege to interview Kontoor’s senior director of global sustainable business Roian Atwood and Wrangler’s Europe creative director Sean Gormley about Wrangler’s newest sustainable line and how to use the tools to make it a global success, from the cotton fields and how the factories processes are being done to the innovative design garments that gives life to the most sustainable denim ever made!
Sean Gormley: The true essence that I get most excited about is the fact that Wrangler can reach everybody. The brand can seamlessly crossover, political divides, through different age demographics... Denim is great when it unites.
JD: Do you think the Wrangler's dichotomy of iconic heritage coupled with robust modernity, will intrigue the consumer?
SG: Yes. There’s definitely something intriguing about authenticity in a product like jeans when it’s being mixed with modernity and innovation. Wrangler embodies that quality in abundance, and the past story of Wrangler just hasn't been completely uncovered. Wrangler’s archives are full of golden moments; it’s really a rewarding place to investigate and create something new.
JD: Can you tell me what’s the competitive advantage of Wrangler with the thousands of denim brands that are out on the market today? In your words, what’s a competitive advantage?
Roian Atwood: Wrangler is an iconic brand with over 70 years of experience making durable, fashionable jeans. As a brand, we were born from the land, from the West, from an authentic ruggedness. Through that unique lens, Wrangler has been a purpose-driven brand. We’re a brand that comes from the land and we want to share that story with the world. Authentic expression of our heritage, our purpose is one of our greatest competitive advantages.
From a business perspective, our apparel spans a spectrum from heritage to the modern, fashion space. That’s a lot of capability, that’s a lot of diversity in our business, in our skills sets, in the type of people that we employ in our vision for the world, in our marketing, in our activations. This is an incredible strength to our brand that we’re going to see unleashed in the coming years.
RA: Indigood is much more than a product. It represents not the end but the mid-point of an evolution of technology. A technology that’s been more than fifteen years in the making with partners that didn’t even know each other existed for certain parts of that fifteen year journey.
We came together several different times, these convergences happened in order to take this idea of something like foam in indigo from a little experiment on a bench top in Texas all the way to the remote region of southern Spain and bring it to commercialization. Two worlds showing their best: the American engineering and Spanish craftsmanship joining forces. We all believe we can have a more positive impact on the planet, throughout the supply chain, manufacturing to sustainability. When we conceived this, we realized that it was more than just building a product but a promise to ourselves to challenge and to create a better dying environment. A promise to transform and be transformative in everything we do going forward.
RA: My role and the role of the Global Sustainable Business Team has been to bring partners together and to make sure the claims we’re making are verified. We worked with the folks at Texas Tech, at Royo and at Gaston as well as internally with our marketing teams, innovation teams, and product development teams to bring this thrilling development all the way to consumers. My role was really to make sure there was continuity from the ideation all the way to commercialization. Additionally, we need to make sure the claims we share with consumers – 100% less water, less chemicals, less energy – are validated. In order to do that, we worked with our legal teams, with third party validators, and the team at Royo.
RA: The typical footprint for a slasher dye machine is around 200,000 liters of water per 25,000 meters of fabric. With foam dye, almost all of the water is displaced. Some water is used to clean the machines and mix the foam, about 56 liters. That’s about .003% of the water.
SG: How do we find the way to communicate this proposition? Through different ways. This Indigood denim jeans, jackets and shirts are actually refreshed. Fashion is about feeling good and we want to get across this now. We’re making a product that you feel good buying.
JD: My question was more geared toward your advertising campaign. How do you take that message to an advertising or creative campaign?
SG: We’re building exactly it at this very moment: diversity, modernity are at the heart of this campaign.
Eduard Tornero (Assistant): For people about my generation, which is the Millennial and Gen Z, we have so many options in denim. What would you think is the element that stands out for us at Wrangler?
SG: The alternative side of Wrangler inspires a lot of people: great heritage, a long story, a lot of moments from our past which were really fun and exciting as in the 70s or the Peter Max collaboration. The way we shoot and we present ourselves. We want to be a feel good brand, and a product like Indigood is making that message stronger.
ET: We know about Indigood's sustainability and the process it requires. My questions is how do you incite the youth generation to believe that one should pay more for the product because it’s the right way to follow? How do you motivate them towards this lifestyle?
RA:Our brand was built on honesty and authenticity, and from that comes a new pillar for us – transparency. We want to bring transparency to in everything this we do. If you want to know how our products are made, where we manufacturer, about the realities of the denim industry, come to us and we’ll tell you. It’s about more than sustainability our brand, it’s about sustaining life. The younger generations understand it, and we do, too.
JD: I wanted to ask you about purchasing the recycled fabrics and in your words for our Forbes readers, explain to them in the simplest terms of how’s that helping relieve the carbon footprint?
RA: When you source recycled content or a recycled cotton yarn content, you’re able to avoid many manufacturing steps. Farm production of cotton is removed, and so are those impacts.
SG: I would go for John Lennon. He’s an inspiration for me, he loved our clothingdenim and he embodies representshow this brand with distinctly western origins can inspire rock stars, riders and every day heroes in all parts of the world. He represents what we need of, a genius in music and communication.
RA: Technology has helped us cut down environmental impacts, create efficiencies, and reach new designs that weren’t previously possible. We use technology throughout our supply chain – from gathering better on-farm data to integrating lasers into our finishing process. We use an eco-system of technology, one that is ever evolving because the best in class technology today, won’t be the best in class technology tomorrow. We have to stay alert, constantly challenge ourselves so that we’re at the forefront.
RA: We have a strong team internally, a dedicated innovation network and solid global collaborations. We work with local universities, entrepreneurs, start-ups, and even incubators. Not all new technologies can win, we are selective and we make strategic choices about those that will advance us the furthest and the fastest.
From a sustainability perspective, we will constantly re-invent how we bring our products to market. We don’t want to just follow certifications and check off criteria. We want innovate, be driven by outputs, we want to be transparent. We want to infuse this throughout our business operations.
RA: Water scarcity will be increasingly one of our biggest risks from an overall supply chain and environmental governance stand point. The climate crisis is increasing droughts globally, affecting our supply chain, but more importantly, communities.
RA:It would be between bringing foam-dyed denim to market, it’s truly a revolutionary technology, and avoided 5.5 billion liters of water at our internal manufacturing between 2007 and 2016. That’s not an estimated number, it’s a real number of liters of water left in the ground and not consumer by Wrangler.
JD: What’s your strategy in design for moving forward and how do you take this sustainable fashion and show this vision to the consumer?
SG: This is the fundamental basis now what we’re going to be doing. We will be encouraging people to think, giving it education. It’s about openness and transparency. Our aim is to be more circular, try to talk about our heritage and about the longevity of our products. We emphasize that our jeans are a non-disposable product. We design clothes that don’t go out of fashion next season.
SG: The silhouette is today’s silhouette. We didn’t replicate the fit from 1940’s, but more like todays. Slim straight is a really important for both genders. We are definitely listening and talking to younger consumers, inviting them to understand more about our heritage. The women’s fit is designed with a really high rise that hugs the natural waistline and contours the hips – inspired by original 1950’s women’s jeans from Wrangler.
SG: We are going to be driving that message through our consumers. We will re-enforce our communication to tell our story on how through our online channels, ambassadors, community, and instore.
JD: Does it bother you that Wrangler is an American brand but it’s made in other places and the fabrics come in from other places? Do you think that there is a dis-connect with the American consumer?
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SG: Not at all actually. We do have a line of products made in the U.S.A., U.S.A cotton, U.S.A farmers. This a great story to tell. Nevertheless we can’t produce it all in the USA; we work in other countries, willing to focus on good footprint and to increase the prosperity in other countries throughout fantastic facilities.
JD: If you could say one more to the consumers of Forbes, why they should go and buy this product? Why would it be?
Acclaimed American Journalist and International Editor. My interest lies in the pace and direction of trend adoption in luxury fashion and lifestyle, access to real-tim...
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